Search results: planner

Updated Coaching Notebook

If you remember, I originally had my planner set-up to also hold my coaching notes. While the system was working out okay, for a lot of reasons, I wasn’t really diggin’ it. So I took some time to rework it. 


Customized Covers Available at my Etsy Shop

The first thing I needed was more space, since I can be working with up to eight coachees at a time. I also have learned that I prefer to use both my computer and paper when taking notes in an observation, as it allows for more flexibility. So my system needed a good amount of note taking paper, but I didn’t want coaching notes for different teachers all muddled together for me to later sort through. I also don’t totally like having separate notebooks or legal pads for different teachers. After assessing these needs and a few more, my decision was to use an Arc Notebook set-up for coaching notes only. I still have my planner, but it now lives in it’s own notebook.

To avoid the muddling through notes problem, I created a different tab for each teacher.


I inserted a coaching log behind each teacher tab, which I put on the left side of the notebook. I prefer this set-up, as it allows me to easily access notes from a debrief to add to the coaching log without doing too much page flipping. Also, when I go into a debrief, next steps from our last conversation are up front and center for me to see.



Screen Shot 2014-01-20 at 8.07.04 AM

Click Here to Download Coaching Log

I print out my typed up notes before going into a debrief and then handwrite additional notes from there. I used to type notes during a debrief, but wondered if it would help my coaching conversations feel more personal if I did away with the computer screen barrier. So far I think I made a good decision.



Oh, and I put together this planning tool to help me think through my coaching conversations. It’s essentially a lesson plan for coaches.

Screen Shot 2014-01-21 at 12.21.51 PM

Based on thinking from the EL Network

Click Here to Download

I keep a copy of this handy in the reference section of my notebook.



This Coaching Sentence Stems reference sheet (by Elena Aguilar) has been another good addition to this section. You can use it when planning for or even during coaching conversations.


Screen Shot 2014-01-26 at 9.48.10 AM

Note taking systems for coaches are obviously very personal. What works for me might not work for you. When developing/tweaking your own, I think the most important components to consider include:

  • ease of use
  • flexibility
  • keeps you organized
  • tracks progress
  • you like using it!

Check off those pieces and you’re good to go!

Thanks for reading,




Thank you

Thanks for your request. I look forward to creating this binder cover for you and send it to you!

Meanwhile, please take a look at my new Esty shop. I have built unique tools and Teacher Planners just for educators like you.


Build Your Routine


This is a good question to do some reflecting on. Especially at the beginning of a new school year. To achieve great things, both within and beyond our school lives, it’s important to constantly be questioning how we spend our time and energy. Building a solid routine helps ensure that we’re making the most of both. I tend to revel in routine, as I feel a little less stressed when I have a handle on the “when and where” of all the daily and weekly tasks I have to keep up with. When am I going to run? When am I going to work on my blog? When will I do my school planning? When will I do my weekly review and how long will it take me? These were all questions I pondered this week in building my own routine for the school year.

I created a freebie printable for you to download and I hope you use it to build your own routine. Come on, it won’t be so bad! Use it to balance the professional with the personal and to materialize more minutes in your week so you’ll be able to plan awesome lessons AND train for a marathon! (okay, maybe not a marathon, but you know what I mean right?)

Screen Shot 2013-10-09 at 6.09.55 AM

Click Here to Download 

My plan is to fill mine out and add it to my coaching planner as a reminder of my “ideal week.” Remembering that it’s okay and necessary to be flexible and making adjustments as needed.

Enjoy and thanks as always for reading,


Office in a Bag

As coaches, we’re always on the go. With an observation here and a planning meeting there, whose to say where we’ll be during any given day. When I began coaching I quickly figured out that I would need some kind of “office in a bag” so that I would always be prepared for wherever my day might take me. My first attempt at this was a big, bulky shoulder bag that I had previously used for hiking and traveling. It wasn’t bad really, but it wasn’t great either. It wasn’t organized in any useful way and it needed a good purge.

Sometimes you just need a little encouragement from seeing what others are doing to get going yourself, and that is just what Jen over at iheartorganizing gave me a few weeks ago when I read one of her posts. As I read how she organized her bag for blogging I thought, “I can do that for coaching!” Let’s take a look inside.

The first coaching essential you’ll find is my coaching planner.


And here I have my much needed working folders. I picked up a great tip from David Allen’s book, “Getting Things Done.” In his book he shares that he carries an “inbox” folder in his briefcase. He explains that it’s just as important to have a mobile inbox as a stationary inbox. Brilliant! Who needs a mobile inbox more than coaches? No more crumpled up papers floating around in my bag. They will now all have a temporary, but intentional home. I use my “Inbox” folder for important papers that I know I need to keep and will file or process them as soon as I get back to my desk. My “Other Work” folder is used for any other papers I may need, but won’t keep. For example, papers needed for a planning or debrief session that day or copies that need to be made.


In Jen’s post she shares how she uses a small cosmetics pouch from Target to carry around smaller odds and ends. Love it! I immediately went to Target and snagged one myself. Next to it you’ll see my treasured Dot Grid Journal which serves as my space to write out thoughts and ideas connected to coaching.


In the first pouch you’ll find a few freshen-up items. I can’t live without coffee in the morning, but I’m also a little scared of coffee breath, hence the mouthwash. Also, never underestimate the value of a mini stain stick!


In the second pouch I have a few computer essentials such as a wireless mouse and a traveling mouse pad {that also serves as a screen cleaner, bonus!}. I don’t always use these, but they sure are nice to have on the occasions when I’m working on my computer for awhile.


When I have a few free minutes at lunch or in between coaching sessions, I like being able to pull out one of my favorite education magazines.


One thing I’m pretty well known for {and made fun of for} is my use of screen cleaner.  I really, really don’t like having a dirty computer screen or keyboard so this handy spray and wipe gets a special spot in the side pocket of my bag. And my laptop sleeve is a must. Keeps my computer from scratches and wear and tear.


I also place my chapstick, lotion, and a pen in an easily accessible pocket on the side of my bag next to my water bottle.


Although I don’t carry it with me throughout the day, I can also fit my clutch in my bag.


Tada! Here it is all put together. It’s not too big and bulky, yet holds everything I need.


Do you have an office in a bag? What’s it like?!

Thanks for reading,


Organizing for Professional Learning

I have just arrived in Baltimore for the Expeditionary Learning National Conference.  I can’t wait!  During this three-day conference I’ll be participating in a mix of interactive master classes and a variety of structured discussion groups.

To ensure I maximized this professional learning experience, I did some essential pre-planning and organizing.

Before leaving I made sure my mind was free and clear of any mental clutter.  I whipped up a travel planning printable to help me with this.  Now I won’t have to worry about whether I forgot to pack anything or if any loose ends were left untied at school.  Ahhh…

Screen Shot 2013-02-27 at 11.27.09 AM

Click Here to Download

During the conference, there is going to be so much great information to record.  My notes won’t mean much though unless they are aligned to specific next actions…now that I know this, what does this mean for me?  What can I share with others?  To support me with this, I created a note catcher for the conference.

Screen Shot 2013-02-28 at 5.04.19 AM

Thanks to Behance Products for inspiring this note catcher.

Click Here to Download

You’ll see at the bottom I included a “Contacts” and “Backburner” session.  At the conference I may meet other educators with great ideas who I want to connect with in the future and I want to make sure I get their contact information.  Additionally, thoughts may come up that aren’t necessarily next actions, but may lead to important next steps in the future.  I’ll plan to record this thinking under “Backburner.”

I hope you can also use these printables to help you plan and prepare for professional learning experiences of your own now or in the future!

Thanks for reading,



I thought it would be helpful to create a handy resource page with my free printables, favorite books, resources, and tools! Use this list to help you choose a couple new titles to add to your saw sharpening list, identify tools to help you stay organized, and even a few resources to help you kickstart a blog of your own. I’ll make sure to add to this list as I read more and learn more. Enjoy!








Leverage Leadership

I heard about this one through the Coaching Teachers course I took on Coursera. The chapter of the book that I’ve gravitated the most towards, is on Observation and Feedback. Reading through this chapter, in conjunction with the Coaching Teachers course, gave me a new way to frame my debrief conversations: probing questions to ask, examples of bite sized and high leverage action steps and building in time for practice/implementation.


art-of-coaching1The Art of Coaching

As part of my summer reading a few years back, I read “The Art of Coaching: Effective Strategies for School Transformation” by Elena Aguilar. Elena writes a great blog over at edweek that I enjoy reading so I knew her book would be a good one to spend some time with. She offers a ton of helpful information in her book, but the chapter that really caught my attention was on developing a coaching work plan. Elena provides ten steps in developing a work plan and explains that they do not have to be sequential.



Instructional Coaching: A Partnership Approach to Improving Instruction

I’m a big fan of Jim Knight. He knows a ton about instructional coaching and there is so much we can learn from him. This was the first book of his I read, which has some great tools and practical ideas to offer.




Unmistakable Impact

After reading Jim’s first book on instructional coaching, I was on the hunt for more! I read this book over the summer and really enjoyed it. One of my favorite chapters was on facilitating workshops for adults. I was able to apply much of what I learned from this chapter to the weekly professional development sessions I facilitate with teachers. If you’re looking for some tips in this area, this would be a great book for you to check out.



Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking

I’m an introvert. A pretty big one actually. So this book totally hit the nail on the head for me and I enjoyed reading every single page. Being an introvert in a leadership role such as coaching, isn’t always easy. Reading this book helped me see I wasn’t the only one out there and helped me feel more resolved to build on the natural strengths I have.



Mindset: The New Psychology of Success

The first thing you’ve got to get straight, when you’re in any kind of a leadership role is your mindset. I refer back to this book often, to help me stay focused on what it means to have a growth mindset. It’s a great book to read and discuss with your staff, as part of a beginning of year PD series.



There Are No Shortcuts

Rafe Esquith has been a long time mentor of mine from afar. He taught in an inner city school for nearly 30 years (I think he still teaches too), and is one of the highest achieving teachers in the nation. Yet his writing style is totally approachable and practical. I love this book and continue to refer teachers to it often.


Journey Towards a Caring Classroom

This book is packed full of awesome initiatives to build community in your classroom. It’s the first book I turn to when I’m in need of a good team building activity. Each idea also includes debrief questions to cover with your class afterwards.



The Reading Strategies Book: Your Everything Guide to Developing Skilled Readers

Holy visuals! It’s so rare to find an education book that not only has concrete, actionable strategies, but also awesome visuals to go along with each one! I’ve just started dipping into this book, but I already have tons of ideas for how I can improve my anchor charts to better support the strategies I teach.



Great Habits, Great Readers

The authors of Teach Like a Champion put this book out, and it’s great! It’s the first, and so far only book I’ve found that speaks specifically to reading instruction as it relates to the CC standards. The section on guided reading is especially good and I’ve been referring to it frequently through my coaching with teachers.



The Next Step in Guided Reading

Here’s another great book for guided reading instruction! It’s super actionable, mapping out how to work with readers at every level. I’ve found it especially helpful for working with Emergent readers.



Day by Day Assessment in the Reading Workshop

I bought this book after reading how Beth Newingham uses it to support assessment in her reader’s workshop (love her!).   It has some really great resources to work with. One of my favorites is information on using a “Status of the Class” assessment to quickly check in on all of your readers at the start of reader’s workshop.




168 Hours: You Have More Time Than You Think

I really liked this book because it helped me take a close look at how I budget my time. When the school year starts, things can get crazy real fast and it’s easy for all of your time to get sucked up by school. Don’t let that happen! Interesting teachers/coaches lead interesting lives…that means they make time for side hobbies or passions, exercising, cooking…whatever it is you’re into outside of school. Right now would be a good time to start thinking about how you’d like to budget your time to make room for all the things that matter to you and see about making it happen!



Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress Free Productivity

This books has somewhat of a cult following and I’m a member. I learned so much about effective systems and strategies for managing your time and tasks from this book. As a coach, you need to be reliable, dependable, and organized…someone who does what they say they’ll do when they say they’ll do it. This helps you build trust with teachers and can’t be overlooked. Having effective systems and structures in place helps you to be that kind of coach.



The Miracle Morning: The Not So Obvious Secret Guaranteed to Transform Your Life

I love routines {yep, sure do} and I’m a total early bird, so this book was right up my alley. Although I’ve always had some kind of morning routine going on, this book presented a new framework for taking full advantage of your AM time. Since reading it, I’ve done some shaking up of my own morning ritual and am working on being more consistent with it. As teachers and coaches we’re giving so much of ourselves to others during the day, my vote is we give a little time to ourselves as well.




The $100 Startup

This is one of the first Entrepreneurial books I read, and the first one that really got me thinking…hey, I really could turn these ideas of mine into something special. We may not make a lot of money, but that doesn’t mean we don’t have the resources to get something that could make us some extra money, started. If you have any interest in monetizing your unique skills and knowledge, I would definitely say give this book a read!




I listened to this book on Audible, and it got me thinking differently about some mindset and strategy shifts for growing my business. It’s a quick read and doesn’t waste your time with a lot of meaningless info.



I love listening to podcasts on my commute. I’m driving and sharpening my saw at the same time! Here are a few of my favorites. You can check any of them out for free on iTunes.

  • Smart Passive Income: This is the best podcast for bloggers and teacherpreneurs just starting out. The host, Pat Flynn, is totally down to earth, and I’ve listened to almost all of the episodes.
  • Model Health Show: I’m always eager to learn more about how to keep myself healthy and feeling good. This is a terrific podcast that has helped me improve my health in lots of great ways.
  • School of Greatness: This podcast is great for whenever I’m looking for some inspiration and motivation. He has great guests on a few times a week, who always have terrific stories and strategies for success to share.



Simplified Coaching Planning Kit

I designed this planning kit to help us out with our work as coaches! It’s designed to work flexibly with where you’re at in your work throughout the year. I also have a Simplified Teaching Planning Kit available.


Time & ToDo Planner

The Time & ToDo Planner was designed for for busy, creative professionals…me and you! With lots of meetings and tons of to-dos each week, I got to thinking…wouldn’t be great if you could see everything you needed to do that week in one easy view? I thought so too, and the Time & ToDo Planner was born!


Discbound Notebook Travel Punch

I carry this travel punch with me in my bag, so I’m always able to print, punch, and add sheets to my notebook whenever I need to!


Frixion Erasable Pens

I only just discovered these pens this year…I have no idea what I did without them for so long! They’re the only pens I’ll use when working with Time & ToDo Planner, since they allow the ability to easily change and adjust my schedule as I go throughout the week.

Disclosure: This page contains affiliate links. This means I might receive a small commission if you make a purchase. My opinions are my own and I only recommend goods and services that I believe will genuinely help you.

Meet Ms. Houser


Hi! I’m Kristin, also known as Ms. Houser.

I’m an instructional coach at a large, urban elementary school. This will be my eighth year coaching, and I love what I do! As nervous as I was to make that initial transition from classroom teacher to instructional coach, I’m so glad I decided to take the plunge.

Like you, I’m working hard to be a successful educator and make a difference for teachers and kids. In fact, I’ll bet you and I have more than just that in common.

Check all that apply:

a) You loooove the work you do as an instructional coach, but you really don’t like how it sometimes feels like you’re on an island of one. You really wish you had some coaching buddies you could get together with and just talk to. Coaches who were doing the work you’re doing and really understood and could empathize with your struggles and successes.

b) You’re a hard working and driven teacher. You’d really like to push yourself a bit further in your career as an educator and coaching sounds like it could be the perfect next step. But you want to learn a bit more about coaching…what’s it really like? How do you take that next step anyway?

c) You’ve been coaching for awhile now. And it’s not that you dislike what you do, but you feel like you’ve lost a bit of your mojo. That drive you used to have and daily pep in your step. You really want to get it back, but you need a little inspiration, someone to help get you going again.

d) You’re a brand new coach or you just landed that coaching job {woot!} and you really want to be the bombdiggity at what you do. You’re so ready to learn and take action!

If you answered yes to any of the above, you’re in the right place! You and me…we get each other. And I’m here to help!


With this blog, I share the real life work I do day in and day out as a coach and teacher. I definitely don’t know it all, I don’t have all the answers, and I still have a lot to learn. I’m not perfect. But I hope that my experiences – successes and challenges – will keep you motivated, inspired, and can help you reach your goals.

In the process of my work on this blog, I designed a Coaching Planning Kit along with a Teaching Planning Kit. Both planning kits were designed to help other coaches and teachers organize and plan for their work. I’m also a paper planner addict and after years of not finding the perfect planner, I decided to design and build the Time & ToDo Planner, designed especially for busy, creative professionals – that’s you!

If you’re feeling like you’d like to be a part of the MsHouser community, please feel free to subscribe to my blog for email updates. You’ll be joining a group of coaches and teachers over 14,00 strong!

Sign up for updates. It's FREE!


And just for fun, here are a few things you might not know about me.

  1. I am obsessed with my chocolate lab Sombra {that’s him in the photo above}. He has me wrapped around his little dewclaw.
  2. I’ve had more odd jobs than you can count – including a muffin maker, gift wrapper, elk head collector {yes really}, and invasive weed wacker.
  3. I’m deathly afraid of earthworms. When I was five, my dad threw one at me and it stuck to my bare belly. I’ve never been the same since.
  4. I don’t like chocolate. Although I’ll eat it if you give it to me.
  5. I loooovve to sleep.
  6. I rode over 500 miles on my bike in 6 days. It was hard.
  7. I celebrate my birthday for an entire week. One day just isn’t enough.
  8. My favorite shoes of all time are Toms.
  9. I’m a Colorado native.
  10. My idea of a perfect Friday night is staying at home with a glass of wine and a good book. I’m a nerd!

Thanks for taking the time to get to know me a bit better, and for the work that you do. I hope to see you on the blog sometime soon!


Sign up for updates. It's FREE!